Vatha Kuzhambu Lunch

Blogging Marathon #121 Week 2, Day 1
Theme : Thalis and spreads

Growing up, thalis (actually Sadya) were served only during festival times. It also would be a slightly lighter version of the Sadya, where amma makes most of the items but not all.

Everyday cooking would have rice, served with some kind of sambar and a different vegetable side dish everyday. Ghee was always there if you want to add it to rice. Sometimes there will be papad too. We used to finish papad real fast, so for most part, we had to wait until amma had time to make it again.

Anyway, after a round of rice and sambar, we used to have a second round of rice with yogurt and pickle to wrap up your meal. The second course would be very light and more for the yogurt than for the rice. Now I realize that if you keep all of it together and take a click, you have a nice thali right there!!

Once I got married, I realized that my in laws had one more course of rasam in between the sambar and yogurt. Keep in mind that you don’t eat a lot of rice with each of these meal courses – you basically divide the amount of rice you usually eat into three. Some houses prepare two vegetable side dishes instead of one. But at my place and my in laws, it’s always a big serving of a single vegetable.

The meal here is based on a bit of all these versions. There is rice, served with vatha kuzhambu and then rasam and three different veggies. I left out the yogurt and pickle since it was cold on the day I served this meal. We usually skip yogurt as it’s kept in fridge and we like a hot meal when the weather is cold.

The plate has :

Read on for the recipe for vatha kuzhambu.


  • 4 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tablespoon dry vathal
  • 1 medium onion or 8-10 pearl onions
  • 8-10 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoon sambar powder
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste
  • 3-4 cups water
  • 2 teaspoon jaggery, optional
  • 1 tablespoon rice flour, optional
  • salt as needed


  1. Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and once it splutters, add fenugreek seeds. Once it changes color, add the vathal. Fry it.
  2. Now add the chopped onions or pearl onions along with garlic cloves. Sauté for a few minutes until the onion turns pink. Now add the sambar powder and mix.
  3. Add in 3 cups water, salt as needed and tamarind paste. Mix well and let it come to a boil. Taste test at this point and see whether you need to add more tamarind or salt. You can add one more cup of water if you prefer. Add jaggery, if preferred.
  4. Let it boil for about 15 minutes. At this stage, if the curry is still on the thinner side, make a paste of rice flour with 1/4 cup water and add it to the pan. Mix well to ensure even distribution and avoid flour lumps. Let it come to a boil and thicken to the consistency you prefer.
  5. Remove from heat and serve with hot rice and a veggie side dish.


8 thoughts on “Vatha Kuzhambu Lunch

  1. I end up making a mini thaali each day though I don’t click them. :) You have some of my favorite side dishes over there. This kuzhambu sounds delicious as I can relate it to a version we make minus vathal.


  2. The Thali looks so yummy Rajani, its a been a long time i made a full meal for the family. The pics look so tempting.


  3. That is an amazing platter with all my favorites. I will be confused as to where to start. The color of the vatha kuzhambu is ultimate and making me feel so hungry.


  4. So true rajani, the thali meals are so common, just that we dont call it that way. Now i have started clicking my day to day thali’s just to have a record in my blog !
    Love this vathakuzhambu, i m literally salivating seeing the pictures!! I too make somewhat similar!


  5. We grew up having this kind of meal everyday. We are not making this everyday now but we enjoy during weekends. Also, I love vatha kuzhambu than sambhar, but we don’t add jaggery. Your vatha kuzhambu looks very perfect. Thanks for sharing the recipe.


  6. I have recently come to appreciate the typical kuzhambu but I am yet to try the dried vathal. My next indian store trip will definitely see me getting the vathal. My mom’s place always has dal, dry vegetable curry, rasam, chutney rice and yogurt on an everyday basis. Sambar is made occasionally and weekends are always BBB or Vangibhat. Loving the thali there.


  7. As you said we almost have a mini thali happening regularly if not daily. All it takes is for us to have some patience and put it together. I love this plate filled with healthy options, we mostly make the vatha kuzhambu on saturdays, gives us time to enjoy the meal…


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